With the 2016 national conventions just around the corner, we were curious about the similarities between how people choose a mate vs. how they choose a president. And here’s what we found…
Even though the most electable candidates aren’t necessarily the most datable; appearance, personality, and character are important factors for many voting Americans. So important that some of the traits we look for in our future life partners are the same things we look for in our future president.
It’s no secret that all too often character, and not policy, influence how people vote in major elections. And after the first televised U.S. debate between the youthful JFK and Nixon in his unfortunately wrinkled shirt, studies have shown that voters who are less informed, vote based on appearance as well. More recent research has taken the idea further and found that many voters are driven by their initial, instinctive reactions to candidates rather than well-reasoned voting decisions. There’s even a paper entitled “Predicting political elections from rapid and unreflective face judgments.”
Anyone who’s online dated in the past year is pretty familiar with the idea of rapid and unreflective face judgments. So is it possible that we vote the same way we swipe?
To make this fun, we created online dating profiles for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders.
Would you consider messaging any one of these candidates if you saw their profile on an online dating site?
But all joking aside, when you start to dive into the personality traits that make up a candidate’s character it does begin to sound an awful lot like the types of things you’d see in an online dating profile.
To take this a step further, we looked at over 834,042 profiles from the online dating site Zoosk to see what words people use the most when describing what they are looking for in another person. The top two qualities were fun and honest. However, other words that were frequently mentioned included caring, open, loyal, intelligent, smart, positive, serious, real, confident, strong, and ambitious.
What Online Daters Are Looking for in a Partner
When it comes to electability, numerous polls have shown that the top quality most people look for in a presidential candidate is honesty. And a closer look at the Sachs Media Presidential Survey found that the qualities that older and younger voters both value are open-mindedness, sense of humor, and honesty and trustworthiness.
What U.S. Voters Are Looking for in a Candidate
sense of humor
honesty & trustworthiness
Compared against the terms we see in dating profiles, there are some similarities. Does this surprise you? Think about it—when you start dating someone new you ask them tough personal questions (to see if you’re compatible personality-wise), you evaluate their morals and values (to see if they line up with yours), and judge their past actions and behaviors (to see if there’s potential for a future between the two of you). It appears many may evaluate candidates the same way.